African Diaspora Marketplace (ADM) : A way to boost US-based entrepreneurs

Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda, the founder of Organic Agriculture Ltd

Forty-eight US-based entrepreneurs were honored and awarded grant packages through the three ADM programs, for their innovative ideas and approaches to promote economic growth in eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa under a collaboration between the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Western Union Company.

The ADM offers US-based entrepreneurs the chance to receive free consulting and mentoring, and a grant package to support their new business venture in Africa. “The ADM will strengthen and help satisfy demand for locally produced products and services. These businesses will buy, sell and hire from within the communities they serve, putting money into the local economy, building local capacity and fueling broad based economic development,” says Jeffrey Jackson, senior USAID advisor for enterprise development.

Over the three editions of ADM competition, more than 1600 business plans were submitted–a record number of participants since the award program began. Subsequently, the panel of judges carefully scrutinised each business plan, leading to the selection of 48 awardees who are all immigrants from sub-Saharan African countries. During the ADMIII edition, seven entrepreneurs among the 14 finalists received the top award package of $50,000, including a $30,000 matching cash grant, technical assistance provided by Deloitte Consulting and roundtrip airfare to Africa provided by Ethiopian Airlines.

ABI – Organic Agriculture Ltd. is among the 14 finalists of this year’s ADM II competition. The ABI project originated as the Organic Agriculture Division within the African Boreholes Initiative Ltd, a social enterprise organization committed to providing high quality products and services which ensure life and good health to Kenyans. “The mentorship from ADM helped us to address the right questions before launching our project in Kenya”, Prince Immanuel Ben Yehuda, the founder of Organic Agriculture Ltd. said. “Our project grew from recognizing a trend in the desire for healthier living among Kenyans. We believed that Kenya was ready and just needed the kind of idea that we provided to move forward. Few months after ADM II, ABI – Organic Agriculture Ltd. launched its Organic Amiran Farmer’s Kit designed to ensure Kenyan farmers can raise the highest quality natural, chemical-free, organic fruits and vegetables and get the appropriate economic return. “Our product naturally serves three essential stakeholders of the population: mothers who desire to provide the most nutritionally superior meals for the health of their families; farmers who are seeking premium products to sell for a higher return; legislators who are aware that organic agriculture is a key element in establishing long-term food security and preserving soil vitality”, he added. After the great success achieved with the opening of its second center in Kenya, ABI – Organic Agriculture Ltd. is now planning on expanding its activities across Africa. Next stop? Ghana and Nigeria!

Providing quality products was also AACE Foods’, a finalist of ADM I, concern. This Nigerian company processes, packages and distributes nutritious and tasty products made from some of the best of West Africa’s fruits, herbs, vegetables and cereals. “By using locally cultivated products grown by small holder farmers and through indigenous labour, we produce 100 per cent proudly Nigerian products”, explains Temitope Jebutu, the General Manager of the company. “Our project is reducing unemployment and helps develop markets for indigenous products by displacing imports and gradually fighting malnutrition in Nigeria.” AACE Foods has recently completed a 5-year strategic plan (2016-2020) and projects to expand its operations to include export to both the European and North American market.. The company plans on purchasing products from 10,000 small holder farmers and setting up a bottom of the pyramid marketing system that incorporates women and youth and help them become economically productive. When talking about his participation to ADM I, Ndidi Nwuneli a co-founder of the company says, “ADM has not only provided us with critical start-up capital which reduced the risk of our financing, but also gave us validation and enhanced our confidence and credibility. It was an excellent opportunity for us to meet other entrepreneurs with similar passions and visions.”

Launched in 2009, the ADM is a unique public-private initiative between the Western Union Company and the USAID. It promotes innovative approaches that will bring sustainable economic growth and employment by supporting African diaspora entrepreneurs. “At Western Union, we have the privilege of witnessing how diaspora communities are fostering positive change in their home countries every single day”, said Aida Diarra, Regional Vice President for Africa of the Western Union Company. “Through our support of ADM, and other programs around the world, Western Union magnifies this good work, helping to drive financial access and economic opportunity in developed and developing countries.” ADM III takes total awardees to 48, with more than 1,600 participants receiving business training throughout the program.

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